Not much done, lots more to do

October 14, 2008

- John Edmundson

As election day nears, you’d think it would be time for union leaders to raise workers’ needs in front of the politicians. The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU) has released its spin on the latest statistics summarising the socioeconomic state of New Zealand in the last decade.

The CTU’s assessment of the Ministry of Social Development’s 2008 Social Report, headed “Social Report: Lots done, more to do”, could best be described as a pro-Labour spin on some pretty mixed statistics for the last decade, a period dominated by the Clark Labour government.

“The social wellbeing of New Zealanders has improved since the 1990s with most social indicators moving in the right direction,” enthused CTU vice president Maori Sharon Clair. “Clearly there is more to be done. Low wages are still holding back the country, and 13% of households in poverty is 13% too many. In many indicators the trends are good, however,” Clair said.

Of course, she is right, in a “lies, damned lies and statistics” sort of way. But what does “most” social indicators actually mean? A look at the actual report reveals a much less praiseworthy result than the CTU spin would suggest. I encourage anyone interested to go to and make their own assessment of it.

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Prohibition is not the answer!

August 18, 2008

The extension of the Wellington City Council’s liquor ban into Aro St and Aro Park is not the answer, says Wellington Central Workers Party candidate Don Franks.

“Banning alcohol in public is not the answer” says Franks

“This is a class issue. As more and more people find it harder to buy a drink in the pub, they find somewhere that doesn’t charge them an arm and a leg.”

“Mayor Kerry Prendergast says that the bylaw will only affect those who display anti-social behaviour. Public drinking is not anti-social behaviour.” says Franks.

“It’s true, there is an issue of homeless people in the parks,” said Franks.

“Many of those people will never afford housing at current costs”.

“We live in an alienating capitalist system, which actually restricts people’s choice”, states Franks.

“If I get elected to represent Wellington Central I’ll restore the option of half a dozen public bars with plastic jugs of cheap draft, damp sticky carpets, bar tables you can lean on and a covered part with a heater somewhere where you can smoke. There will be quart bottles, meat raffles, an old upright piano, a pie warmer and a guitar behind the bar.”

Casualisation: real jobs and con jobs

August 7, 2008

- Don Franks

For those of us in the working class, few things are more important than having a real job. A real job produces stable predictable earnings. It pays enough for us to support ourselves and our dependants, with a bit left over for some luxuries, savings and fun. A real job is also a big part of our social life. For many people their workplace is a sort of secondary family; in some cases the community of an individual’s job provides their main social connections. In every case a proper job gives us a feeling of social worth, a feeling that we belong, and that we count for something because others count on us.

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A damning report - and a cowardly response

July 1, 2008

- Don Franks

Activist and author Anne Else was the keynote speaker at a public meeting of the Campaign Against Rising Prices held on Saturday June 7 in the Wellington suburb of Newtown.

Anne spoke as a member of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), a non-profit group formed in 1994. CPAG believes that “New Zealand’s high rate of child poverty is not the result of economic necessity, but is due to policy neglect and a flawed ideological emphasis on economic incentives”.

Anne told the meeting about CPAG’s case against the government currently being heard by the Human Rights Review Tribunal. CPAG contends that Labour’s in-work tax credit breaches New Zealand’s human rights legislation by discriminating against children of beneficiaries.

“Current policies ensure that people are trapped in poverty,” Anne said. “The damage done by poverty in childhood never goes away. People are precluded from having a decent life.”

She argued that it is “totally unjust and discriminatory” not to help beneficiaries: “Unpaid work is still work. Bringing up children is work. And it now takes a much bigger investment to produce a child for modern life.”

Anne’s talk inspired this reporter to find out more about the work of the Child Poverty Action Group. Below are some quotes from the CPAG’s legal case against government discrimination of beneficiaries at the Human Right Review Tribunal.

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